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Smoking- it’s time to be a quitter!

Man holding up "no smoking" sign

You know the saying “there’s no time like the present”- well when it comes to quitting smoking, that really does ring true. By starting your quitting journey today, you are doing the best thing for yourself, your loved ones, and your pockets! Makes total sense, right?

As part of our #ManchesterMenSpeakUp forum, we spoke to our co-founder & ex-smoker, Neil Walbran, gathering his views and experiences as a successful quitter! Read on to find out all about his story.

Hi Neil! How long were you a smoker?

Hey! I smoked for 19 years from the age of 20, up until I was 39.

Why did you start smoking?

It was the circle of friends I was in they all smoked so I got into it that way.

What made you quit smoking?

I didn’t want to be smoking for 20 years and I didn’t want to be a smoker at 40 years old. I was sick of it anyway and found that it was holding back my training in the gym, was too expensive and at 39 it was just making me feel ill with chest problems and a cough. Not a good look.

How did smoking make you feel?

Initially, it was a fun hit but towards the end of smoking I just felt rotten- I started to hate it and couldn’t carry it on any longer.

How do you feel now that you have quit smoking?

I feel 100% better now. I can’t believe I ever started to do something so dumb like that. It’s great to get past the ten-year clear stage and to know you’re on the road to a smoke-free life. I have loads more energy and it feels weird to say, but at 57 I’m now fitter than I ever have been.

What is the best advice that you would give to somebody who is looking to quit smoking?

Make a plan, man! Don’t do it alone and be sure to ask your mates for help. I had to change my lifestyle after quitting for a while which involved taking no part in any activity related to smoking.

For example, the first time I went out for a drink (about 2 months after quitting) my mates were under order to take me straight home if I asked for a cigarette (which I of course did) They frogmarched me back to my flat and kept me accountable, and I will always love them for that.

Was there a turning point on your quitting journey? If so, what was it?

It was my nephew- who was 5 at the time. I had always tried to hide my smoking habit from him but one morning he said he’d found my ‘smoking stuff’ and looked at me like I’d really let him down.

You have to set an example for your loved ones, so it was a real wake-up call for me. I stopped the next day.

What was the best resource that helped you get to where you are now?

As with any addiction you need someone to talk to, something to do with your hands, and above all a plan. My smoking cessation nurse was the coolest. She made a fuss of me and would tell me how proud she was that I was still smoke-free.

I bought an x-box and got into gaming. Slap on a patch, play your favorite game and before you know it bedtime is here and cravings haven’t had a look in. I also got a new car and made a promise to myself that I’d never smoke in it.

Finally, I made myself a plan with a staged reintroduction to craving-related stuff like drinking coffee, going out with friends, and going to events.

I still kick myself for starting and I have the greatest sympathy for guys who want to stop but are struggling – I have been there myself! But you can pull through- I did and I’m 18 years clear.

I hope that this helps. If you have any questions for me about anything in this blog, please just drop me a line in the comments- let’s get the ball rolling.

If you are looking for support or would like to do your bit to help raise men’s voices in Manchester or have your own experiences of smoking cessation, or anything else that impacts your health or care, please join our forum today and get talking.

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